Dr. Cairns welcomed to CJ faculty staff

Waynesburg University had some changes in the staff over the summer break. Among them was a new chairperson promoted in the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences. 

Dr. Kenneth Cairns, a psychologist who worked 20 years in the Pennsylvania Corrections Department in the prison system, retired in 2019 and joined the University to teach criminal justice. 

“I was kind of ready to be done with it…”said Cairns.. As soon as he left, a job opened at Waynesburg for a role in teaching criminal justice.. Coincidentally, his son had decided to go to Waynesburg as well.

“So, it seemed like God was leading me in this direction,” Cairns said. “It’s time to move on to career two.”  Just a few years later, Cairns was called to become chairperson of the criminal justice department. 

Cairns is full of excitement but has a unique way of starting things as the new chair. “I want to keep the ship on the same course it is on,” Cairns said, to show that the department is already on track and no major changes are needed just yet. However, in the future, he said he plans on adding some new programs like Inside Out, where college students get to go into the prison and take a course with the inmates. “It’s good for the inmates, it’s good for the students and it’s good community relations,” he said.

Cairns made sure to communicate his new role with the department. Leslie Ridge, instructor of criminal justice, said that the communication has been great so far. 

“As soon as he took over, he sent out emails to all the professors introducing himself, letting us know about the new changes and making himself accessible to us,” Ridge said. “My experiences have been fantastic with him so far.”

Since a new spot opened as the chairperson, someone had to leave the position. That man is Adam Jack, who also got promoted last semester to vice president for enrollment management, athletics, facilities, and strategic initiatives.

“He is the reason I am here,” Cairns said, who has a great relationship with Jack. “It was a win-win, absolutely.” 

Jack, still being a part of Waynesburg, has helped Cairns with the challenges he has experienced already. Cairns knows he will help and answer any questions asked. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to go to him and say, ‘Hey, I need to find another admin for sociology. How do I do that?’ and he’s been incredibly helpful,” Cairns said.

Cairns said he loves the shift of a high-end prison to college campus, and it makes him appreciate the little things in life. 

“I went from first to worst, I went from max security to here, how can I not enjoy it?” Cairns said. He has gone through a strenuous career to make his way here to Waynesburg University, where his hard work has paid off.